1887 Bethel Journal

The Bethel Journals

Compiled by Donald G. Bennett

May 8, 2008

  GTR Timetable  Names in the News  Town Report   School Report   Map of District Schools   Gould Academy



1887: News at a glance.


   School system – time to change: 1887 became the year, at the annual town meeting on March 5, that voters agreed to start reforming the town school system. Educational matters in Bethel were always approached with great reluctance.  Voters approved changing the public schools from de-centralized, hamlet sized districts to a system of town management—”much to our surprise” noted the two member superintending school committee in the year end report to the town.  School kept in 20 small districts (see map in 1887 journal). However, at the same time, voters did not agree to fund tuition for Bethel students to attend high school at Gould Academy.


Town Meeting: For the first time, voters had a printed town report at the town meeting. 


Names: On May 17, Dr. Nathaniel Tuckerman True died - possibly the most widely known Bethel citizen, a champion of better education for town, county and state.


 Col. Clark S. Edwards was appointed by the governor to a Maine commission that would travel to Gettysburg, Penn. , to purchase land for a Maine memorial for her fallen War of Rebellion soldiers.


On October 16, 1887, Rev. David Garland, much beloved and respected pastor of the 2d Congregational church in Mayville, died in the pulpit of the First Congregational Church at Bethel Hill. He had served as pastor for 38 years, the only pastor in the church’s history.


Industry: In early January, Bethel’s new chair factory was making final preparations to start up: a new steam engine and boiler was delivered from Mechanic Falls; manager Barrows negotiated with the selectmen and a special town meeting to obtain another $500  to install steam heat. The selectmen were voted authority to lease the new building to Barrows. New faces arrived in Bethel looking for work at the chair factory. The corn canning factory operated by Wolff and Reessing on land near the Mill Brook upper dam received new mechanical corn cutters that would machine cut corn from the cob.  The owners of Bethel’s corn factory were said to own interests in 21 fish packing concerns and other factories.


Go West: In October, S. S. Abbott, Bethel’s town clerk, turned over his duties to his deputy L.T. Barker and left for Denver, Colorado where he became a partner in his own law firm of Mitchell and Abbott.


Real Estate: John B. Chapman bought Rialto Hall (skating rink) on Main Street and soon converted the main floor into an area for entertainment and town purposes. The 1887 annual town meeting was held there in March. In November Oxford County’s Musical Convention met in the hall and Bethel citizens held temperance meetings there.





News Journal


1/4/1887: West Bethel: Business is lively. Many teams are hauling birch to the steam mill here. The Advertiser has another new correspondent here.

Newry:  Hay is going up. Eli Stearns is handling a good deal; he is asking $15 a ton for pressed hay.


East Bethel: The oyster supper given by the Ladies Sewing Circle was a success – Mr. Galen Blake “took the cake” as the handsomest man.


Gilead: Business is booming here this winter; everybody is busy. J.W. Bennett has 22 horses from Portland drawing spruce for him.  W.E and J.P. Skillings are piling in the birch in their mill. So much pulp wood is being shipped here that they are “bothered” to get (the railroad to bring in) cars to load.


South Bethel: Teams are landing railroad ties beside the railroad. These ties are sold to Col. Edwards who has taken a large contract with the Grand Trunk. Curtis Abbot has taken a job turning dowels for R. J. Virgin. 


Bethel: William W. Mason, one of our butchers, has sent seven tons of poultry and fresh meat to Berlin, New Hampshire during the month of December besides his home business. He has a son in Berlin who keeps a meat market there whom he supplies. Thursday morning in some places the thermometer registered 26 degrees below. Judge Foster and his family leave Bethel for Saco where the judge holds the January term of court for York County. Large quantities of pulp wood are being shipped from Bethel station. The Grand Trunk have decided to put in a siding to accommodate the chair factory which will start up next week. The Paris Hill Dramatic Club will present the drama “Comrades” at Rialto Hall for the benefit of the relief fund of Brown Post G.A.R.


Wilsons Mills: John Olson has sold his oxen to Weymouth to go into the woods.


1/11/1887: West Bethel: We (the West Bethel correspondent) made New Year’s calls on the Hon. E. W. Woodbury and Abiel Chandler, Jr., the Bethel correspondent to the Democrat, and the day was pleasantly spent with our numerous friends in that beautiful thriving village. G.E. Mills has gone to Wild River with his team to work the remainder of the winter.


Locke Mills: Business is first class in the spool mill. The Tebbetts Mfg. Co bought 300 cords of white birch in the month of December. They also shipped two carloads of spools the first day of January.


Gilead: Newton Blake of Bethel is at work with his horses drawing birch for J.W. Bennett. A private school is being talked of to be held in the town hall. A quantity of liquor has been seized and spilled by the selectmen -  some poor fellow has lost a good time. Good hay is scarce and high priced.


Bethel: The winter term of Gould’s Academy opened (in December 1886) with about 60 pupils in attendance – a larger number than has been registered at the opening of corresponding terms since the new building has been erected (1881).  Hon. David Hammons has several teams drawing pine lumber to the steam mill to be sawed into deals (dowel strips?) for parties in Eastport. He has contracted to deliver on the cars at Bethel 150,000 feet. It is to be four and one-half feet in length and is to be sawed five-eighths inch in thickness.


Newry: The steam mill at the Branch started up last Monday and is sawing dowel strips. J.A. Thurston’s new mill at the Corner is about ready to start. S.R. Widber, our Representative, started for Augusta last Monday.



1/14/87 C. S. Edwards has contracts for $10,000 worth of birch, poplar and railroad ties.


1/18/1887: (Democrat) Bethel: John B. Chapman has bought Bethel skating rink (Rialto Hall) which was built by a stock company and will convert the upper stories into rooms for mechanical purposes and the lower floor will be used for entertainment and town purposes.


1/19/1887:  Special Town Meeting. (Minutes of town meetings 1887)  This meeting was called to review and the continuation of town support for the chair factory building.  The meeting was moderated by William E. Skillings (?).  This meeting’s warrant called for the following items:  (1) To hear the chair factory building committee’s report; (2) To see if the town would accept the report of that committee and the auditor; (3) To see if the town would authorize the committee to contract with James Barrows (who would lease the building for chair manufacturing)  to furnish steam heating apparatus for an expense not to exceed $500 with the expenses allowed as credit on building rental; (4)  To see if the town would authorize the Treasurer to appropriate $500 to install heating and make connections; (6) To see if the town would authorize the selectmen to execute a lease of the factory building and grounds and will instruct them (selectmen) to care for and look after the interests of the town.


1/25/1887: Gilead (The Democrat):  W.E. and J.P. Skillings will start up their mill in a few days for the winter; they will cut about 2,000 cords of birch this year. Locke and Hastings have lengthened out their platform for the accommodation of loading their long lumber which is drawn out of the Wild River mill.


1/28/87.  The chair factory at the depot is getting ready to start up. An 80 hp boiler is used and a 25 hp J.W. Penney Mechanics Falls engine furnishes power. Parts of the mill are running and the famous Shaker Chairs of J. H. Barrows make are taking shape. The boom since the building of the chair factory still holds up. A number of men are seeking employment at Bethel having been thrown out of work at the J. H. Barrows plant in West Paris when the finishing operation moved to New York.


3/7/87 Annual Town Meeting held at Rialto Hall.  There were 19 articles in the 1887 warrant. The most significant articles had to do with re-organizing the school management system from the district system to a town system. The meeting voted to adopt the town school management system which then made three of the articles addressing school district consolidations unnecessary. Article 19, however, asked the voters to approve paying tuition for scholars who live in the town of Bethel and attended Gould’s Academy for one or more terms in that year.  The voters passed over (defeated) that article.  On a motion it was voted to print a detailed town report in accordance with Chapter 3, Section 38 of the Revised Statutes. On a motion it was voted that the selectmen appraise all school property in town and report the appraisal at the next annual town meeting.  A list of all articles in the annual town meeting warrant is contained in Appendix 1.


4/16/87:  A special town meeting was held to consider the following items. William E. Skillings moderated the meeting. Article 2 concerned paying bills received at the town for breaking roads in 1886 and 1887. Voted to pay the bills.  Article 3 concerned the amount to be raised for paying the above mentioned bills. Voted to raise $704.69. Article 4 concerned repairs to Alder River Bridge. Voted to raise by assessment $400 for repair of the bridge.


5/6/87.  The Governor of Mane has commissioned Col. C. S. Edwards one of 15 officers to proceed to Gettysburg and purchase ground a monument for our dead soldiers. Last winter $15,000 was voted for that purpose. Prof. A. M. Edwards, the Col’s son, will accompany him and tour many of the battlefields of the Rebellion after the business of the commission is ended. They left Bethel last Monday and will meet up all the Maine officers at the Quincy House in Boston, then leave for the South.

5/13/87.  We begin to feel the benefits of the chair factory now; three new families have moved into the village and rents are being inquired after.


5/20/87. Dr. N. T. True died last Tuesday night. Mrs. Dr. True arrived home last Tuesday to find Dr. True sinking fast toward the land of silence. Mrs. Farnsworth came Thursday.


5/20/87. Gould’s Academy graduation exercises at Ideal Hall (2005, second floor of the Opera House) Thursday, May 19th. Thirteen in the class: three in Business Course, five in Scientific Course, five in Classical Course.  Students at the graduation on the following topics: Government Control of the R.R. and telegraph, Strikes, Joan of Arc, Prohibition, Illiteracy of the United States, The Crusades, A Plea for the Knights of Labor, What is an Education, Chinese Immigration, Protection, and Free Trade.


5/27/87. South Bethel item: Water of Androscoggin River is falling slowly so higher intervals are being cultivated but lower ones are under water.


6/10/87.  Bearce’s (log) drive arrived in Bethel Tuesday and is said to contain six millions (board feet?). The logs are jamming badly and a crew has been sent to Rumford falls to try to clear them.


6/24/87.  Abial Chandler Jr. … every room in his large house (Alpine House)  is engaged for summer boarders. Two large houses, Messrs Farwell and Benson, are already built on land he sold them on Mason Park (and area that in 2006 is bordered by Mason Street and part of Chapman Street), and others are negotiating for building lots. “This enterprise of Chandlers, of build up this part of Bethel is certainly a good thing for the village.”


7/1/87. Col. Edwards has finished his railroad ties contract amounting to several thousand dollars.


7/15/87. The Bethel Baseball Club is raising money for new uniforms – blue worsted with white cap and vests.


7/22/87. The two Masons, W. W. and O. H., together control 16,000 acres of wild timberlands on the Ellis, Bear, Sunday, and Androscoggin Rivers.


7/22/87.  Berlin, N. H., had only one thousand population six years ago and it now numbers 4,000 or more and said to be the fastest growing town in New England.  It is on our Androscoggin River whose waters get used so many times in passing through that smart town that it brings the bubbles clear to Bethel.


8/5/87. Gilead:  Another runaway marriage: Al Scribner and Helen Wight.  Her father opposed the match but they evaded pursuers and reached a justice.


8/12/87. Showing of a “White” sewing machine at Mrs. H. R. Goodwin’s who is agent for Bethel – this is the only machine on which ornamental work can be done.


8/12/87.  A hen at Maple Inn farm (Middle Intervale) recently dropped a 7.5 x 6.25 inches egg.


8/19/87.  W. J. Lovejoy, Bethel House had 55 guests last Monday. He is building an addition to his house and stable.


8/19/87. S. D. Philbrook will open up Chapman Street to Railroad Street this fall (some streets have since been re-named).


8/19/87.  Corn factory news: new machinery has arrived; machinery cuts corn from cob and puts into can which saves work of eight men. New machine expects to fill 3,000 to 4,000 cans this season. New Manager needs to hire more men and women.  Messrs Wolff & Reessing – owners of the factory – own interests in 21 fish packing concerns and other factories.


8/19/87. Successful concert at Ideal Hall – proceeds went to benefit Bethel Library Association so they could replenish books there.


8/26/87. A Boston Theatrical Company will open a week’s performance at Ideal Hall.


8/26/87. Our corn factory opens today.


9/16/87. Gould’s Academy is prospering with 82 students enrolled and more expect for the new term.


9/23/87. Corn factory closed for the season; 340,000 cans were put up; best day’s production was 28,000 cans; one day’s work assigned to canning lima beans; will pay farmers and help as soon as they can straighten out their books.


10/7/87. Corn factory paid $7,000. to 170 farmers.  The average pay per acre was $35.


10/14/87. News item about Charles L. Davis who had two teams of horses to haul corn from the corn factory to the freight cars at the depot. His teams made eight trips daily. There were 36 boxes (of canned corn) in each cart load. At 50 pounds per box it made a load of 1800 pounds. One carload held 500 boxes and 28 cars were loaded.


10/16/1887. Rev. David Garland died in the pulpit of the First Congregational Church in Bethel on October 16, 1887. He was born in Newfield, ME, Mar 22, 1815. He graduated at Amherst College 1843 & at Andover Theological Seminary 1846.  He had been ordained Pastor of 2nd Congregational Church, Bethel, Me, Aug 15, 1849 where he labored until his death at age 72. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (Inscribed on the monument of the Garland’s located at Riverside Cemetery, Bethel)  Garland’s congregation took it upon themselves to care for ‘Mayville Cemetery’, so-named in 1887 until it was incorporated as the Riverside Cemetery Association in 1905.)


10/20/87: By entry in the town minutes, L.T. Barker was sworn in as Deputy Town Clerk.


10/21/87.  S. S. Abbot, town clerk, has left his home for the West (Denver). The correspondent noted that many (Gould) graduates have gone west.  Abbot notes the writer had general approval for his administration as the town clerk. His final duties included settling up of corn factory business of nearly $10,000.  Abbot appointed his assistant, L. T. Barker, to take his place.


10/21/87.  The newspaper’s correspondent inserted an item that in Mayville there were 11 families who lived within one mile extending from Moses A. Mason (The Norseman in 2005) and in those 11 families there are eight widows.


10/21/87.  The new road from Bird Hill to Locke Mills is an improvement.  The reporter has heard that 10-12 cases of paralysis in this and adjoining vicinities have occurred – also several deaths in one week’s time.


11/4/87.  Oxford County Musical Convention is now at Rialto Hall. There are 65 singers in the chorus.  Also Bethel citizens held a temperance meeting at Rialto Hall.


12/2/87.  Gould Academy closed last week, November 23.  Public examination on classes: in Greek, Latin, French, Geometry, Algebra and Elocution.  There was large attendance at an evening exhibition – proceeds will go to purchase new apparatus for the academy.


12/9/87.  Rev. Mr. Hardy of the 1st Congregational Church will preach afternoons at the 2d Congregational Church (Mayville). He will repeat the morning’s sermon- thus saving on his labors.


12/9/87. Letter from former town clerk S. S. Abbott in Denver:  He is partner in a law firm of Mitchell and Abbott. He says Denver is finest city and best climate in the country - 85,000 inhabitants. It is Queen City of the plains.


12/9/87.  Brown Post G. A. R. of Bethel will hold a mammoth campfire at Rialto Hall, December 20 - “Beans on the trencher from 6 to 9.”


12/9/87. Major Lovejoy is home from a week’s visit to Medford, Mass and reports business is booming.  He thinks he shall be in the Bethel House from July to September next summer.


Also: O. S. Richards former office manager of Singer Mfg – Bethel has moved to St. Johnsbury, Vt., where he is in business for himself.


12/23/87.  Attendance at Gould Academy for the winter term is small – only 40.  New lamps are to be purchased for the main room from funds raised at Fall exhibition; a lyceum is to be started.


12/23/87. Riley Plantation.  A cook writes: The weather is so changeable everyone has a bad cold – handling poplar is the business of the day here now.


12/23/87.  W. E. Skillings showed a large book of photos of Skillings’ Estate in the heart of Winchester, Mass.  It has 30 acres with 15 Skillings family residences inside the stone wall that surround the estate. All of this estate is now owned by W. E. Skillings and his brother who also own the Bethel Steam Mill Company.  (This item was interesting to me because I lived near Winchester on the main road, Mystic Street that connects Arlington Center with Winchester Center. Our home property adjoined the Spur Estate of about the same size and across the road was another estate of the Niles family. The Skillings Estate sounds like it was similar to those of the Godfather novels.)


Throughout the year news of Bethel social group activities appeared in the newspaper’s weekly correspondent’s reports:  these included the Masonic lodge, church groups, Brown Post G. A. R.





Schedule in effect on May 15, 1887










Montreal to Portland







5:10 AM

8:45 AM

3:00 PM









W. Bethel












Locke Mills






Bryant Pond






W. Paris






S. Paris












Portland to Montreal







9:30 AM

1:50 PM

5:27 PM



Bryant Pond






Locke Mills












W. Bethel



































































The Superintending School Committee members -  A.W. Valentine, O’Neil W. R. Hastings and Stephen S. Abbot - were handed the year’s most challenging job – that of converting the school districts to a town system.  Mr. Valentine was 47 and had been a member of the school committee in 1886.  O’Neil W. R. Hastings, 28, was the son of Gideon Hastings and S.S. Abbot, 28, was the town clerk of Bethel. 


In October, S. S. Abbott, town clerk, left his home for the West (Denver). The paper reported that his final duties included settling up corn factory business of nearly $10,000.  Abbott appointed his assistant, L. T. Barker, to take his place. 


The town’s oracle of education, Dr. Nathaniel Tuckerman True, made news by passing on to the land of eternal sleep.  He was 74 and had first come to Bethel in 1835 - 22 years old - to teach the first class of Bethel High School.  This information comes from “The History of Bethel, Maine”, William Lapham.


Newly elected selectmen (new names to the scope of the journals):


Albert Wellington (A.W.) Grover, 46, - represented West Bethel as a selectman – continued as selectman for three more years- Bethel militia – mustered into Company B, Twenty-third Maine Regiment in 1962 – Gould Academy trustee – member and officer holder, Bethel Masonic Lodge – 1874 Bethel Centennial celebration, represented School District No. 25 on the committee – George W. Grover, his father, had cleared the original Grover farm now connected to West Bethel village by the “Flat Rd”. “The History of Bethel, Maine”, William Lapham.


Charles Mellen (Chas. M) Kimball, 48, elected selectman in 1887 (and re-elected the next three years) – represented East Bethel where he lived on the Kimball homestead farm of his father – noteworthy reputation as farmer overshadowed by holding lengthy terms of public office – elected selectman for two terms in 1873 – represented Bethel in the Legislature from 1882 to 1889 – had four children by his second wife, Mary Bartlett, the youngest born in 1884 – first wife died after they had been married a little more than a year – 1874 Bethel Centennial celebration, he represented East Bethel’s School District No. 8. “The History of Bethel, Maine”, William Lapham.


Gilman P. Bean – see Names in the News for 1886.


Col Clark S. Edwards, 63, of Vernon Street was appointed to a Maine battlefield monuments commission by the governor -.  impressive military career – considered a major contributor to Bethel Hill’s growth and prosperity – businessman, farmer, lumberman, builder, senior Army officer – married Maria Mason, daughter of Ayers Mason – raised seven children – nominated by Maine Democratic Party for governor in 1886 but did not win – born in Otisfield and came to Bethel at age 24 in 1848 – in May 1861 recruited and commanded company of men that became Company I, Fifth Maine Volunteers – served in Army of the Potomac and fought at Gettysburg – promoted to Brigadier General and mustered out in 1864 – had also served as selectman for two terms – built large house and barn on Vernon Street ( 2006, owned by John Head).  “The History of Bethel, Maine”, William Lapham.


James H. Barrows was the subject of weekly news columns throughout the year as the chair factory started up manufacturing operations. The other factory in town to make news was the corn canning factory of Wolff & Reessing.  The factory canned 340,000 cans of sweet corn for the 1887 season. 



The Bethel Journals

1887 Bethel Journal

May 6, 2008


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Androscoggin River Toll Bridge


1887 travel over the big covered bridge built in 1869 still required paying a toll fee. 1887 income:

  Permits sold:$473

  Other rental:$450



True Love in Gilead

August 5th, “Another runaway marriage: Al Scribner and Helen Wight. Her father opposed the match but they evaded pursuers and reached a



Church Labors

Rev. Mr. Hardy of the First  Congregational Church will preach afternoons at the Second  Congregational Church (Mayville),  following the death of their pastor Rev. David Garland. Hardy will repeat the morning’s sermon- thus saving on his labors.